As the heat rose outside the Home Depot in West Hempstead on Long Island, small groups of day laborers gathered under short trees alongside the parking lot. Here and there, heavily used mountain bikes were locked up; their owners had already found work. Jorge, who said he came to the United States from Guatemala 20 years ago, was among three dozen men still waiting for a nod from a contractor, and he leaned on a bike he said he had borrowed from a friend.
“The gas — it’s too expensive to use a car — you got to use a bicycle,” said Jorge, who would give only his first name. “We do this because we don’t have a lot of money. A lot of people do this here.”
Bike commuting takes on a greatly different aspect in this dusty parking lot. No one talks about green living or exercise. There are no showers and no bike racks. The only place to clean up is at a spigot on the side of an empty house nearby, and to lock up, the trees.
“Overwhelmingly, Hispanics are more likely to bike to work,” said David Mejias, a Democratic Nassau County legislator from North Massapequa, “and they overwhelmingly make up the fatalities.
“They are going to work at odd times, coming home at night from working in restaurants and bars,” he added, “and they have no reflective gear, no helmets.”
For the Hard Core, Two Wheels Beat Four
In 2006, 45 cyclists were killed in 5,402 reported accidents across New York State.
Seems like bike advocates should be doing aggressive outreach in Hispanic communities since members of the Hispanic population are more frequently injured or killed in bike accidents due to their lack of safety equipment and knowledge of NYS traffic regulations concerning bikes. This would have a tremendous impact on the numbers of fatalities and accidents in NYC and NYS.